It is a known fact to every indie fan that Mac Demarco and live performances go together like cuffed pants and Vans. Demarco has been enriching, if not bewildering, the rock music world with his wacky yet wholesome performing style.
An attendee of his shows could expect to see anything from him picking out fans in the crowd to come on stage and play guitar to Demarco stripping down to his underwear and dancing to “What Is Love” by Haddaway. He has been consistent with his on-stage antics since the days of his first LP Rock and Roll Nightclub (2012), and he brought no shortcomings to his Summerstage show at Central Park, NYC this past Saturday.
I first saw Demarco in June 2017 at the Governors Ball Music Festival on Randall’s Island. Despite the brevity of the set because of festival rules, Demarco fully displayed his charismatic and often hilarious showmanship, along with the hypnotic multi-instrumental capabilities of his band. Keyboard player Alec Meen, a recent addition to the band at the time, mesmerized the crowd in tandem with the psychedelic solos by guitarist Andy White.
Demarco showed the full potential of the softer, more synth-oriented style he adopted on his latest album This Old Dog, released in April 2017. The hour and a half set left me fully satisfied, as I had been anticipating seeing Demarco live since I began listening to him in mid-2015. Walking into the venue at Summerstage, I knew that Demarco would take full advantage of the whole night he had available to him on stage, and he certainly fulfilled those expectations.
After an entertaining opening set by fellow Captured Tracks artist Juan Wauters for the first hour, Demarco and his band began with “On the Level” and then “Salad Days” to the crowd’s delight. Demarco followed up with other revered tracks such as “Ode to Viceroy”, “Freaking Out the Neighborhood”, and even “Rock and Roll Nightclub” off of his first LP.
Following a two hour, high-energy set of his own songs, Demarco left it to his live band to play their renditions of classics such as “Hybrid Moments” by the Misfits, “High and Dry” by Radiohead and even “Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, sang by drummer Joseph McMurray. The crowd reacted to these with both passionate recitations of lyrics and a series of mosh pits that would leave an onlooker shocked that they were really at an indie jazz-rock show. Demarco finalized the hour or so of madness with a crowdsurf across the entire front end of the venue.
The night concluded with a heartbreaking tribute to Mac Miller, the profound hip-hop artist and producer who was found dead from an apparent overdose on Friday, September 7th in his Los Angeles home. Demarco and his audience sang an intimate rendition of “Watching Him Fade Away”, a somber end to an evening that was anything but tame.
Review By: Joe Caggiano